Grindr seems to have played itself by giving its employees a return-to-office ultimatum — and nearly half of those employees responded by quitting.
As Wired reports, management at the popular queer and trans hookup app issued a stark turnaround from its previous commitment to remote work when they gave workers an abrupt notice: pledge within two weeks to return to work in person at the company's offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, or San Francisco at least two days out of the week, or be laid off.
A bunch of those employees weren't having it, and as representatives from the Grindr union told Wired, 82 out of the company's 178 employees — or a staggering 46 percent of its total staff — decided to quit in response to the policy that would have required relocation for many. Many more who did not sign the pledge will face termination next year during the second phase of the policy's rollout, employees said.
In other words, the fracas is a perfect illustration of post-pandemic workplace dynamics in tech and beyond, as bosses are lobbing increasingly draconian return to office demands at workers who've been accustomed to a more flexible arrangement.
Strikingly, the announcement of the hard-lined policy came just two weeks after staff announced that they were unionizing with the Communication Workers of America. As one of the remaining employees pointed out, nine out of the 11 union organizing committee members were forced out by the policy announcement.
Unsurprisingly, the Grindr union is peeved. The CWA is filing multiple unfair labor practice charges against Grindr on their behalf, including one that alleges the return to office policy — which was a dramatic departure from the company ownership's previous commitment to remote work, which was reinforced as recently as June — was a union-busting tactic.
Grindr employees told Wired that in spite of relocation stipends, the company requiring employees not based in Chicago, LA or SF to move is hypocritical in the current anti-LGBTQ political climate.
Robin, a trans Grindr employee who asked Wired to use a pseudonym and for their location to be withheld for fear of retribution from the company for speaking out, said the in-person work mandate put them in an impossible position: to either leave a queer workplace that "felt like a breath of fresh air" or to leave their support network, which includes doctors who provide them with gender-affirming care.
Ultimately, they decided to walk — and their other trans coworkers who would have had to move chose not to stay with the company either, which "shows a disparate impact on a marginalized class of workers," Robin said.
"Demanding that LGBTQ+ people move for their jobs in this political environment conflicts so much with Grindr’s mission," they told Wired, "that it’s close to its users, that it’s a part of the community."
More on remote work: Forcing Workers Back to the Office Might Not Have Been a Good Idea After All